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HERSHEY, Pa. — The Hershey Co. Chairman, President and CEO John P. Bilbrey announced his intention to retire from the company effective July 1, 2017. He will continue as non-executive chairman of Hershey's board of directors following his retirement.
"I have had the privilege of working in consumer packaged goods for more than 35 years and leading The Hershey Co. has been the highlight of my career," Bilbrey said. "Our iconic brands, remarkable employees and commitment to making a difference in the world has made this a difficult decision for me. But now is the right time to begin the process of handing over the reins as CEO as it will allow me to spend more time with my family and wonderful grandchildren.
"I am proud of all that we have accomplished as a team," Bilbrey added. "I am confident that the board will identify an outstanding candidate to lead The Hershey Co. through this next phase of growth. I look forward to working alongside the board to make the transition to new leadership a seamless process. Until that time, I will continue to work closely with my management team to grow the business and create additional value for all stockholders."
As part of the company's succession planning process, the board has appointed a special committee to direct the search for a new CEO. Pamela Arway, chair of the governance committee, is leading the special committee. It will review internal and external candidates with assistance from executive search firm Egon Zehnder.
"J.P. has been a great leader for The Hershey Co. and we are grateful for his unwavering commitment and many contributions to Hershey's success during his 13 years with the company," said Arway. "Succession planning has always been a top priority for our board of directors, and we look forward to an orderly leadership transition. We are confident in J.P. and his leadership team and know they will continue to focus on growing the business while upholding Hershey's great heritage and values as the board conducts a thorough search to identify the right person to lead this company into the future."
The Hershey-based a global confectionary company markets, sells and distributes its products under more than 80 brand names in approximately 70 countries worldwide.